Five out of the eleven teams have permanent representation in the group: Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams, with Lotus currently enjoying representation as the highest-placed of the remaining teams in the constructors’ championship.
This has led to concerns that the wealthier teams will use the group to propose rules which will be to their benefit at the expense of smaller teams like Sauber and Force India.
Mallya said his fears about that had been assuaged. “When this was first mooted, I definitely did question whether the intention was to restrict decision-making to the six teams, to the exclusion of the smaller teams,” he said during today’s press conference.
“But when I was assured that that was not going to be the case, that the Strategy Group was to advise on future strategy concerning Formula One, to be then debated or voted upon at the Formula One Commission where all teams are represented, that obviously was a source of comfort.
“I?óÔé¼Ôäóve spoken individually to many team principals who are part of the big six as I call them, and all of them have assured me, as indeed Stefano [Domenicali, Ferrari team principal] did now, that they will look after the interests of all, which includes the smaller teams.”
Mallya, the only team principal who has a seat on the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, said that led him to approve the creation of the Strategy Group.
“On the basis of that assurance I actually voted to approve this new structure at the World Motor Sport Council, so so long as things work out the way they are intended to.”
“Only time will tell,” he added. But not all of his fellow team principals share his expectation that the teams on the Strategy Group will put their competitive impulses aside and refrain from using it to disadvantage their rivals.
“Clearly Sauber is not so comfortable with it,” said team principal Monisha Kaltenborn, “because we are not on it”.
“We have nothing, as such, against a group that looks at certain matters and can bring up ideas and also maybe say that this is the right way to go ahead but what matters is that all interests should be represented.
“Teams like Force India or Sauber are part of the competition and we cannot be happy by being excluded by this group because we do feel that we have to ensure that that?óÔé¼Ôäós where the danger lies that there?óÔé¼Ôäós a proper representation of interests in there.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pointed out that the decisions of the Strategy Group still required approval from the Formula One Commission, on which all teams are represented:
“All the teams still sit on the Formula One Commission that still very much exists, that has the right to reject or approve regulations to be introduced.
“But the Strategic Group is made up of teams that have made a firm commitment to the sport for many years to come and it?óÔé¼Ôäós a way of hopefully effectively introducing changes with the consultation of others because other groups will still exist but it?óÔé¼Ôäós hopefully an efficient way of introducing changes to the sport in years to come and I think that it is a positive thing. Time will tell if it works or not.”
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